Was it the hunky photo of him sitting on his Harley, or my 10-year obsession with learning to ride a motorcycle? The details are fuzzy, but I clearly remember “winking” enthusiastically, at my future hubby, on match.com. We met for our first date at the Woodside Deli, his freshly-washed Road King flirting with me in the parking lot, while Ken waited for me inside. I breathed a silent wish, ‘please don’t be a serial killer, married, have bad breath or any other unsavory qualities’, because I was already in love…with his motorcycle.
Me and Ken with his 2003 Harley Davidson Road King
Early in our relationship, I happily rode on the back of Ken’s bike. It was exciting, and it scratched my motorcycle itch, but I wondered whether I was coordinated enough to ride my own. Would my hands, feet and brain collaborate, when called upon, to safely ride a motorcycle? So, on a hot-ass day, in April 2009, I decided to find out. The answer? Yes, I was, in fact, coordinated enough to clutch, shift, stop, and most importantly, NOT drop the bike. I got my motorcycle endorsement, and purchased my first motorcycle, a Suzuki GZ250 the next day. For the next 11-years, our weekends and vacations were spent on our bikes, exploring local backroads, and taking multi-day trips to Sturgis, Daytona Bike Week, the Florida Keys, and Niagara Falls.
Like religion for some couples, our motorcycles were embedded into the fabric our relationship. We were committed to a life full of adventure, and our bikes provided the outlet. One day, inevitably, I would surrender my 2-wheeled motorcycle for a 3-wheeler. But that day was far off in the distant future. When I could no longer ride safely, I would trade 2-wheels for three, without shame, if it meant I could still ride. Somewhere down the road, a much older, grayer, wrinklier me, would move to 3-wheels. But not just yet.
A plan is just a starting point for change.
In May 2019, Ken retired, as planned. We bought our dream home Pennsylvania, to be closer to family and his retirement job, restoring antique motorcycles at Bob’s Indian Sales & Service. That was the plan. Oh, but not so fast. In July 2019, Ken was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a cancer attacking his bone marrow), and by August, he could barely get out of bed. This wasn't part of the plan. The motorcycles that once occupied so much of our leisure time, sat idle in our garage, while we faced an unwelcome, unplanned new adventure. Countless doctor’s appointments, hi-tech scans and tests, 5-months of chemotherapy, back surgery, weight loss, hair loss, a stem cell transplant, and an emergency hospital stay, took over our lives for the better part of a year.
By March 2020, 9-months after diagnosis, Ken was in full remission, but not yet ready to ride. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t ride, right? And yet, I couldn’t. Riding was always our thing, and with the exception of the year he spent in Afghanistan, I rarely rode without him. And then the COVID-19 apocalypse hit, chock full of self-quarantine-social-distancing-mask-wearing shenanigans. Because Ken’s stem cell transplant wiped out his entire immune system, I couldn’t ride with anyone I didn’t know, and risk infecting him. So, I found myself not riding at all, while my bike sat, collecting dust, in the garage.
Time to switch gears.
2020, the year of the pivot. Maybe this was the time to move to 3-wheels? Not because I was older, grayer and wrinklier, but because we could get out for some wind therapy together, me in the driver’s seat, Ken in back. But, could I trade my gorgeous Harley CVO Softail Deluxe, and give up the rush of riding on 2-wheels? My mind went to all the ugly places, people will think I’m a gigantic wuss or that I can’t handle 2-wheels… blah, blah, blah. Even my daughter asked “but won’t you miss your bike?”. Yes, I would, even though I’d struggled lately to maneuver my 780-pound motorcycle. I often worried about dropping it, and needed help backing it into our garage. But was I really ready to move to a 3-wheeler? After cutting through the bullshit, I decided I was.
My 2015 Harley Davidson CVO Softail Deluxe
Once I’d made up my mind, I acted fast, worried I’d change my mind. Having already test ridden both a Harley Trike and a Can-Am Spyder, I knew I preferred the easy handling and smooth feel of the Spyder. With its 2-wheels in the front, it felt much closer to what I was used to on my Harley, so I decided on a 2020 RTL Can-Am Spyder in Asphalt Gray, from a local dealer, Brooks Powersports.
With pick-up day nearing, my anxiety around trading my Harley still lingered. Would I regret it and kick myself later? I quieted the doubts, kept moving forward, and the minute I rolled my new baby out of parking lot, I knew I’d made the right decision. Confident and comfy, I rolled toward home, 100% relaxed, with no worries about dropping her, or backing into our garage (thank you Can-Am for reverse mode).
It’s been more than a week, and we’ve already been out together on the Spyder multiple times. We’re finding any excuse to ride, and dreaming up new adventures, just like we used to. Have I seen the last of my days on 2-wheels? It’s too soon to say. Maybe one day I’ll pick up a lightweight Indian Scout, to satisfy that need to lean, but I’m already in love with my Spyder, and Ken loves her too. She’s part of the family now. Soon, Ken will be back riding solo on his Indian Vintage Motorcycle, but for now we’re riding together, 2-up. Just like all the years before, and all the years to come, we’re loving every minute in the wind. Look out adventures, here we come!
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